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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Public School...FAIL

This may be an unpopular post, but just deal with it.  My mom was a public school teacher, I am a public school graduate, and my daughter is currently attending public school along with 99% of the rest of the country's children.  Here's the thing.  I'm not a fan.  Sorry.  Things were different when we were kids and they were regimented in a way that seemed to make sense.  Nowadays, I don't like it.  They've eliminated cursive writing because it seems to be "unnecessary".  Really?  I'm glad my signature on loan documents will never be able to be forged.  Looks like fingerprints are in the future for everyone!  Way to go, America.  That being said, Farrah had the most beautiful handwriting in her class.  Now?  Now, it doesn't even seem to matter to her teacher.  Her teachers at her private school complimented her on her beautiful handwriting and encouraged her daily to keep up the good work, helping her find pride in not only turning in work that was accurate, but beautiful, too.  What I've seen is a downfall in that wonderful "insignificant" skill of hers to be hurried and sloppy.  That's not my kid.  That's my kid who is bored and just wants to finish whatever she's working on so she can do something else.
I had found out 3 months into the school year, that the days Farrah went to the school library, the first graders were limited to the "first grade section".  Umm...what?  Farrah reads at a 4th grade reading level and she has to read about the puppy who lost it's way?  No.  I got the librarian to make an exception for her, but it really bothered me that it just got overlooked.  How the hell do you overlook something like that?  I'm not using this post to brag about my kid, but to point out something that I was concerned about by the time I'd conceived her.
There are many teachers out there with the love and passion for teaching and I know some of them.  Unfortunately, they're not at my daughter's school.  I knew things were changing when I'd have to help my stepson with his homework and watched the way the system changed on an annual basis.  Eventually, it was going to get to a point that it would hit home with me and my daughter...and it has.  She is a bright kid and very mature.  But one thing I believe she has picked up on and has learned is to just keep quiet, get her work done, play with her friends, and be ready to come home when it's time.  Sounds like me.  She's bored.  I'd warned her teacher and her principle that this could happen and I wanted to be sure she got challenged.  Mind you, her school isn't doing an awful job, it's just sometimes, certain students get left behind to fend for themselves while the ones that need more help, get more attention and more one on one time.  That means kids like Farrah are forced to be independent (which, thank goodness, she knows how to do...but she shouldn't HAVE to completely in class).
The problem I see with public school is how it has become a cookie-cutter program that the teachers have to follow accordingly and without getting an opportunity to think outside of the box.  My daughter used to be encouraged to follow her dreams at her old school.  While math, science, social studies, literature, and geography (yes, all in kindergarten) were important...Farrah loved dinosaurs, fossils, and various information on ALL animals...her teachers would have her spend time studying those things she was so passionate about.  She'd come home and tell me all about it and how much she learned and her excitement was contagious.  Now, it's more strict about following the rules that are set forth in the curriculum and they cannot be tampered with in the slightest.

So, blah, blah, blah...after that long rant, here's why I'm finally bitching about this in the first place.  Yesterday was Mother's Day.  Farrah had worked on a little project she'd put together for me at her school.  I remember last year at Seeds Learning Center, they had a Mother's Day program.  The moms got a little concert with their little ones singing to them and each child came down and gave us our gifts they'd worked so hard on.  Cards, a flower, and a handmade bird feeder made out of cheerios and ribbons.  Are you kidding me with that cuteness?!!  They all dressed in their best and gave all the mommies hugs and kisses.  The teachers were so loving and helped the shy kids with boosting their confidence just enough so they could participate.  It was great.
Yesterday, Farrah said, "Hey, mom! I almost forgot to give this to you!"  She handed me a laminated piece of art with a poem on it.  It was so cute and sweet.  I read the poem...and after the first sentence, I stopped reading.  "Farrah?  Isn't this the same poem that is on the wall in our living room that was my Christmas present that you made at school this year?"
"Yeah."
"Did you notice it was the same?"
"YES!!  A bunch of us did!!  We were trying to tell our teacher but it was like she didn't care."
"Did you say something to her about it?"
"No.  Because I knew someone else was going to say something and I didn't feel like it."
So, there you have it.  I have a picture on my wall of my daughter's hand print with a lovely poem about her hand and how small she is now and how quickly she's growing.  AND NOW I have another piece of artwork with her hand print with a lovely poem about her hand and how small she is now and how quickly she's growing.
Are you kidding me?
Not only is the curriculum "cookie-cutter" but so are the special projects?  While the thought is sweet to do anything at all...I can't imagine how disappointing that was for the class.  Farrah expressed how much it bothered her, but also pointed out she wasn't alone in the discussion with the other 7 year olds that thought they were putting something special and unique together for their moms for Mother's Day. It hurt my feelings for Farrah because she takes those types of things to heart and puts a lot of effort into making something special for her parents...to find out that it really wasn't that important to her teacher to make a little more effort to find a new poem especially when the kids were telling her they'd ALREADY DONE THIS PROJECT.  5 minutes.  That's how long it would've taken a teacher to find a new poem.  One to two days is all it would've taken to allow the kids to come up with something special they wanted to say themselves about how much they love their mommies.
It's more important, apparently, for math, reading, P.E. and your various science studies to get done, than it is to allow a 7 year old child to use their imagination and their own talents to put together something truly from their heart.  I was also given a book that was "M" is for..., "O" is for..., etc.  These were all done FOR the students.  Farrah did "H" herself to say that "My mom pays for my HORSEBACK RIDING CLASSES".  The rest were what the teacher told the students to write.  Again, I have to compare to Seeds Learning Center...that would never happen.  The teacher would have the students list off words that start with those letters to describe their mom's and then THEY'D get to choose what they wrote.  And the reason those would be so special?  Because they were the truth from the hearts of the children that knew their mom's the best.
I don't know...it really bothers me when I know how much potential every child, not my own, has and it gets pushed out of the way to just keep up with what the teachers are told to do.  The government run education system is losing it's grip on what makes people awesome and helps them grow academically. Maybe it's time for me to join the PTA (something I never wanted to do) and be an advocate for education instead of the god damn fund raiser bullshit.  And I'll do whatever it takes to get Farrah back into Seeds Learning Academy.  That's a promise to my kid that deserves to be back where she WANTS to be and she feels important there.  Her words, "Yes, I have the friends I've made at Cascade, but I can make new friends.  THOSE are MY teachers and that's the school I want to go to."  You got it, honey.

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